Was Vine fun, memorable, and widely relatable to everyone under forty? Of course. Did we all have a blast during its short lifetime? Totally. Have I personally memorized hundreds of Vines during after school free time that I could have used to make my life less of a frantic hellscape? Absolutely. But, most importantly, is the top article for Emory's own Odyssey Community still that one top ten list about Vines? As much as I hope that one of my articles might miraculously break the hierarchy, yes, Vine is still heavy on the minds of even Odyssey content creators and readers.
But let's be honest with ourselves: Vine was basically the fast food chain of social media.
Nobody really made friends, met people, or even used the app itself. Most people who reference classic Vines are referencing them from having seen YouTube compilation videos, with such beloved titles as "vines to show my church friends" or "RIP vine but I'm two years late."
In the final summary, Vine was fundamentally the McDonald's of the technological age, pumping out hundreds of easy memes in highly accessible little seven second packages. Ultimately, this stupidly genius little app burst into the spotlight, took a massive dump on our collective attention spans and standards for internet humor, and then crumbled under the pressure of its own bad business model. It's been gone for quite a while now, but somehow the impact remains. Not only do we still memorialize Vine with endless YouTube compilations and the discovery of ever-increasingly rare vines, but a new braindead app in the same vein as Vine has come to capitalize on our depressing overabundance of free time.
Enter TikTok, the bastard younger brother of the tween thirst trap that was Musically. Having come under fire not only for its overabundance of cringey thirst traps, but also for its alarming number of pedophilic users, TikTok hardly had a smooth beginning. It was torn to shreds by everyone from CodyKo to H3H3 and looked like, for all intents and purposes, it would be yet another dumb cash grab that would be left dead in the water.
But that hasn't been what's been happening at all. Over the past few months, likely in due part to the criticism of the app as well as the constant memorializing of Vine, TikTok has fundamentally transformed from being a pedopphilic thirst trap to only partially being a pedophilic thrist trap. The other part is, well, what I've chosen to call The New McDonald's of Pop CultureTM.
While Vine was a kind of miraculous and surprising meme factory because of the complete freedom it gave users to put literally anything into those precious seven seconds, TikTok is more aware of the precious power of meme potential, and has dozens of filters and pre-created video formats to maximize the potential for parodies and irreverent humor. While particular videos on Vine rose to popularity and were then incorporated into the popular vernacular, TikTok has waves of a particular meme on a weekly basis that crash through the app before settling and reforming along the basis of a new joke that every user can easily interact with. For a while there, literally everyone was parodying the thirst trap use of "I'm already Tracer" and "Bad Boy" Panic! At the Disco meme. Now, something new has claimed center stage.
While Vine was a monthly selection of random top quality content, new, collective jokes and parodies are literally being served up on TikTok the second that an old one begins to get a little dull. It takes Vine's original, stupid genius of generating a fast food factory of dumb and accessible humor, and expands on the concept by creating a community where the same joke is canabalized in these intense waves of collective referencing before some new meme bait is pumped out once more. In a way, one could argue that the app is like a little snapshot of meme culture as a whole, though in a much shallower and messier form. One thing that is undeniable, though, is the fact that TikTok has become the new Vine.
True, it's not nearly as beloved as Vine and its references aren't as recognizable to the passing millennial, but in terms of its goals, system of operation, and the kind of content that is being created, TikTok is Vine's spitting image.
If you don't believe me, take a look at such YouTube compilations as "TikToks with the same energy as Vines," which has a growing library of volumes. At first, maybe you'll remain unmoved, stubbornly denying that this corporate crap app for tweens could have any similarities to your beloved Vine, but as the video progresses and you find yourself doing double-takes, wondering if that last clip was actually a Vine that you vaguely remember having seen, just remember what I said here. It might be cringey or embarrassing or just plain dumb for you to have to admit, but these apps are siblings at their core and the content that they create for us is a trash factory of jokes with half an ass worth of effort.
While you may think TikTok is stupid, you can't deny that its content is familiar because, while Vine may have been less eager to capitlaize on our propensity to pump out an endless series of lazy and irreverant humor, they are both just fast food chains for our combined appetite for spicy memes that our parents will shake their heads at but all of our friends can connect with. Maybe that makes this all sound deeper than it really is, but it doesn't hurt to take a good look at the machine behind the memes before flipping back to hours of our own mind numbing swill of cheap jokes.
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